One of India’s favorite vegetarian curries. I have found from experience that the best substitute for home-made fresh cheese is baked ricotta. One needs a firm cheese that will not melt when cooked, but hold its shape. If baked ricotta is not sold in your neighborhood deli, bake it yourself. Buy firm, fresh ricotta (sold by weight in most supermarkets) but allow half as much again, say 750g – 800g, as it loses weight when the moisture evaporates in baking. Cut in 2cm (¾ in) slices and place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a moderate oven, 180 C (350 F) for 30 minutes. Turn slices over and bake a further 20 minutes or until firm and tinged with gold.
- 500 g (1 lb) baked ricotta
- 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
- 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 3 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 250 g (8 oz) fresh or frozen peas
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala (see page 168)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or coriander
Cut the ricotta into slices about 2 cm (¾ in) thick, and then into cubes. Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy saucepan and fry the onions, garlic and ginger over a medium heat, stirring now and then, until the onion starts to turn golden. Sprinkle in the ground spices and fry, stirring, until the spices darken slightly and smell fragrant. Add the tomatoes, peas, salt and garam masala. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp and the peas are tender. Frozen peas may be added after the tomatoes are soft, but fresh peas will need longer cooking. If necessary, add a little water if the mixture becomes too dry. Add the cheese and simmer for a further 10 minutes, spooning the spicy tomato gravy over them. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve with steamed rice or Kitchri .
For ease and speed, heat oil or ghee and fry 3 tablespoons Charmaine Solomon’s Butter Chicken Marinade for 2 minutes. Add 250ml (8 fl oz/ 1 cup) tomato pure and 1 tablespoon sugar. Bring to the boil, add 250g (8 oz) frozen peas, thawed. Simmer 5 minutes, add cubes of ricotta and gently heat through. Finally stir in 125ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) cream. Garnish with fresh coriander or mint and serve with rice.